EPISODE XIX - YOUR IDENTITY, YOUR CLAIM, YOUR FLIGHT
I am delighted to hear that despite the summer's "lazy, hazy," time to just, "chill out," many of you are continuing to read my blog. You are responding by sending me your e-mails regarding the many questions you have. I thank you!
One very vocal group are the seniors; the sec 4's who are anxious about their upcoming final year. The most troubled of the groups are the graduates. They are now free of high school, and looking nervously to the "unknown"; the colleges/ Cégeps, trade schools or work. Their fear just screams through their letters, understandably so. I want to start by stating one piece of straightforward advice given to me by my former teacher Mr. Andreou, who is now long deceased:
I can remember the time, and the place, standing outside St. George Cathedral, in Montreal, being just as anxious. I was describing to Mr. Andreou, the multiple questions I had as to what I wanted to do in my life. I had been accepted, to Sir George Williams University (Concordia University) but uncertain what I was going to do there.
You see, I was the first in my family to have graduated from high school, let alone having the privilege to go to University. I had no role models to follow. I knew I must succeed because I was the first of eight cousins to be accepted to a higher place of learning. My success or failure meant a lot to our family; so the pressure on me was immense.
Sitting outside the church, like Buddha under his tree, Mr. Andreou, listened patiently, waiting until I ran out of steam. Mr. Andreou turned to me and said, "Μην φοβάστε τη ζωή" (Do not be afraid of life.) These few words have been etched in my mind since; they have come to anchor me in times of loss.
The real currency is "relationships"; that is, which calls out your real personality, your identity, and your name. If you want to be king of your reality, simply move out into the desert or forest and be king. Otherwise, given that you are a human, a social animal, how you relate to your social fabric, will give you your status as "king/queen"; let me explain:
The school is a microcosm of the real world: Think back to your earlier grades in school, who or what was the currency, who was the student that everyone looked up to? Was it the hardworking student who was "driven"; who spent hours upon hours studying and getting the top grades. Or, was it the seasoned student who demonstrated a balanced life?
In today's society, your identity is very much a condition of trade. Unfortunately, when you come across new acquaintances, be it a man or woman, the first thing they want to know about you is what you do for a living. Your name, your real identity as to who you are becoming or have become, is secondary. This is a shallow measure of "value," based on the wrong type of "currency." You might want to be skeptical of such personalities that seek labels in life as "good," "bad," or ugly." I would ask that you read my earlier EPISODE XVIII - YOUR IDENTITY AND THE SHADOWS OF THE CAVE, to appreciate what I am talking about.
You might also ask the question, why was the hardworking student "driven" in the first place? Remember, up to a point, your perception of the world is shaped by that of your parents or guardians. That is why as a teen, "naturally," you go through the "stage of rage" as I pointed out in Episode XIV, The Age of Rage. Nature has provided us with the capacity to "clear the slate" and seek our identity, seek our name. If you have been "influenced," to "be driven, by your caretakers, or allowed to "wander in self-discovery"; all such are now secondary to the physical changes taking place. Your physical brain is being rewired! That is why I maintain that teen life is one of wonder.
You are initially wrapped in a "cocoon"; the protection of those who looked after you. After a period of physical growth and mental development, you are now on a journey of self-discovery. You emerge as an "amazing colorful butterfly:" With your developing, new personality, you will be able to "reference" ideologies and norms of those who have cared for you, while at the same time "questioning" their validity. You will now seek your true identity and claim "your name."
This "questioning" as to "the proper life" one must lead, has occupied man ever since he had "leisure." What we mean by this is for you not to have to think about daily survival, your "needs." For this reason, the first item on your agenda should be self-support, your ability to be responsible for your "needs."
In Episode XVI, I discussed how your needs were taken care of by your parents or guardians. For you to become a self-actualized human being, you need to break this dependency; you need to jump out of the nest and fly.
Getting a job and moving out of your home might be an option, but not necessary. Becoming a responsible contributor to your family's "collective needs" might be as good: Needs vary from family to family, depending on wealth. In every case, there are responsibilities that you can assume which will prove to members of your family unit, that you are now "becoming," a responsible adult. They no longer need to be concerned about your basic survival.
I was a guest at a family dinner several months ago. As the conversation evolved, I kept on repeating myself in jest, here and there, "Oh, do I have a story to tell you about this!" I kept on repeating myself, time and time again and as frequently, dominating the conversation with various work experiences, I have had in my life:
I remember at age 7-8, in Greece, having to deliver the photographs my father had taken of soldiers in the army barracks. Later on, in Canada, I would walk the corridor at Perry Lanes bowling in Montreal, from 20:00- 23:30, selling soft drinks; the next day, I would have to get up in time to attend high school. Between 13-16 years of age, I also, worked a Snowden Delicatessen, Friday - Sunday, washing dishes, washing toilets and later being promoted to short-order cook. At about age16, I gained enough experience in photography, to become a full-time photographer, working at the churches, shooting baptisms and weddings, most weekends. Later on, when I entered University, I would work summers as a purchasing agent for a chain of restaurants, still holding on to my weekend photography. Following this, I became a purchasing agent for a large international shipping company called Papachristides Shipping (Hellespont Holdings Ltd). By the time I got married, my family "needs," had expanded so much so, that I had to work at three jobs: Teaching elementary school during weeks days, doing photography on week-ends and teaching at two Universities, some nights. In just ten years, I had managed to pay off a thirty-year mortgage and owned my home outright! Later on, I was out of teaching and became a Realtor in Montreal. After that, I was licensed as an insurance broker. Things became more interesting when I formed a transport company, and got involved in home renovations. While in Greece, I started a school (Technical Institute of Technology)… and on and on, I can go listing all my work experiences which "might" impress you.
I have listed "some" of my employable skills, not to demonstrate how enterprising or hard-working I am, to the contrary, but to demonstrate how foolish and misguided I was. I had allowed my "wants" to dominate my life at a high cost. Yes, I had achieved many of the comforts of life, and my wife and children had most of what they wanted, but I missed my family. I want to share with you my wisdom from this experience:
We must turn to our great philosophers Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates, just to mention a few of the great thinkers, our "guideposts" to the Elysium Fields.
These brilliant thinkers studied and thought what would be a person's best or better path in life, which would lead to "Eudemonia." There is so much relevant material online, especially on YouTube about this subject; that I encourage you to have a look. In short, it means "balanced life," moderation. And this should be your guide, "balance." The ancient Chinese culture speaks much about balance.
In most cultures, "balance" is the key, but that is always relative to your circumstance. The most important aspect of balance is discipline. You must strive to let the inner calling of your Light, be listened to, by you. Listening to your inner spirit will guide you to what you need to do to maintain balance in your life. Reading and viewing online material of the great philosophers. Speaking to your mentors and teachers. "Observing" examples of families who "are together," versus families that fall apart, are all there for you to observe, witness and internalize the proper way forward.
Before taking off on a flight, a pilot needs to be sure of two things. (a) He needs to be able to identify himself (Your name. Your "identity."), i.e., Flight number,( Student, son/daughter). (b) Next, the control tower needs to know your destination. (Your claim. Who do you want to become?) Only after these two essential criteria are met, only then, are you allowed to take to your flight.
For this reason, my young friends, take the time to know "your identity," who you are and want to strive to be. Plan your destination on how you want to get there. Once you are ready to start on this beautiful journey, "DO NOT BE AFRAID OF LIFE!".
Let me end this Episode, with another quote from Desiderate: (in Hellenic Text) This quote was taken from a student who was studying at Columbia University. When you click the above selection, check out his other links: A fascinating fellow; seems bright and accomplished, yet humble enough to use the words of Desiderata as his guide.
"Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism."
I hope this Episode has addressed some of your concerns - be gentle, never forget, "You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars."
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE!
REPLACE ALL FEAR WITH UNDERSTANDING!
REPLACE ALL FEAR WITH UNDERSTANDING!
Here is another, how much is your worth?
By Elias Leousis,
(Η αγάπη είναι το μελάνι, η σοφία είναι το μήνυμα.)
Love is the ink; wisdom is the message!
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